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Passiflora (passion flower)

What is passiflora? What is it used for?

Passiflora, or passion flower, is a perennial creeping vine native to the southern United States, Mexico, Central and South America. The plant’s name dates back to the 17th century, when Spanish missionaries compared the plant’s purple and white blossoms and other elements to the passion of Christ. The leaves, stems and flowers are all used medicinally.

Traditionally, passiflora was used by Native Americans as a sedative. It is used in much the same way today; the German Commission E has approved the use of passiflora to treat nervous restlessness and exhaustion. It is also incorporated into many dietary supplements designed to promote sleep. It is frequently combined with valerian, lemon balm and other herbs to ease pain and tension and help people fall asleep.

How much passiflora should I take?

The recommended dosage of passiflora is two grams of dried herb taken three or four times a day. Alternatively, patients can make a passiflora tea by combining 0.5-2.5 grams of the herb in boiling water, or consuming 2-4ml of a passiflora tincture up to four times daily.

What forms of passiflora are available?

Passiflora is available in a wide variety of forms, from fresh cut herb to tablets, extracts (both fluid and dry), tinctures and infusions.

What can happen if I take too much passiflora? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

When used as directed, passiflora is generally safe and does not appear to act negatively with other sedative drugs. However, it should not be taken by women who are pregnant or lactating. At the time of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with passiflora.

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  • Fisher AA, Purcell P, Le Couteur DG. Toxicity of passiflora incarnata L. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 2000;38(1):63-6.
  • Foster S. Herbs for Your Health. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 1996, 68—9.
  • Meier B. Passiflora incarnata L. - passion flower: portrait of a medicinal plant. Zeitschrift Phytother 1995;16:115—26.
  • Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 206—7.
  • Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1994, 363—5.


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